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Barcelona, the self-confident and progressive capital of Spain, is a tremendous place to be. Though it boasts outstanding Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings, and some great museums – most notably those dedicated to Picasso and Catalan art – it is above all a place where there's enjoyment simply in walking the streets, stopping in at bars and cafés, drinking in the atmosphere. A thriving port and the most prosperous commercial centre in Spain, it has a sophistication and cultural dynamism way ahead of the rest of the country. In part this reflects the city's proximity to France, whose influence is apparent in the elegant boulevards and imaginative cooking. But Barcelona has also evolved an individual and eclectic cultural identity, most perfectly and eccentrically expressed in the architecture of Antoni Gaudí. Scattered as Barcelona's main sights may be, the greatest concentration of interest is around the old town (La Ciutat Vella). These cramped streets above the harbor are easily manageable, and far more enjoyable, on foot. Start, as everyone else does, with the Ramblas.
The Balearics are comprised of 16 islands; the three principal ones are Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca. Lying just 60 miles off the Spanish mainland, the islands’ lush and rugged landscape combined with an extremely mild, sunny climate prove irresistible. The Balearics boast cosmopolitan resorts with lively nightlife and plenty of sports activities. Palma de Majorca is the capital of the archipelago. A cosmopolitan city with sophisticated shops and restaurants, it also offers buildings of spectacular Moorish and gothic architecture. Museo de Mallorca housed in the Palacio Ayamans boasts an interesting collection of Moorish, medieval and 18th- to 19th-century art. Those who wish to explore the northern end of the island will enjoy the dramatic land and seascape of Cabo Formentor at the end of a long, narrow peninsula. A winding road with magnificent views leads to the luxury Hotel Formentor, beautifully situated above the bay. The lighthouse of Cabo Formentor is the most northerly point on Majorca.
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Situated on the western shore of the Strait bearing its name, the port at the entrance to Sicily is one of the deepest and safest in the Mediterranean. The city's was rebuilt low buildings to minimize the danger of earthquakes. This gives the center a pleasant, open townscape combining sea, sky and hills. Train-ferries, car-ferries and hydrofoils make the connection across the Strait of Messina to Reggio Calabria on the Italian mainland. Among the main attractions is the Norman-Romanesque cathedral, with an adjoining bell tower. The works of Renaissance painter Antonello da Messina and two large Caravaggios can be seen at the Museo Regionale - which features an interesting collection of material salvaged after the 1908 earthquake. From Messina, excursions are possible to Taormina, Mount Etna and across the Strait to mainland Italy.
Valletta is the capital of Malta. This remarkable fortified city with its massive bastions followed the most advanced Renaissance ideas in town planning, with streets laid straight on a grid looking over the Grand Harbour. Outside the 'City Gate' is the famous Triton Fountain. 'City Gate' has public buses and vendors selling soft drinks and all sorts of traditional fresh Maltese bread and sweets. Freedom Square shows an extraordinary capital with buildings of fine architecture of different tastes and styles ranging from the Mannerism to Baroque to Rococo to Neoclassicism. Valletta is a fascinating city for wandering around looking at what used to be the Knight's own cathedrals and Auberges. The city's backbone is Republic Street, which runs straight through the city center to Fort St. Elmo. Valletta has several narrow, steep side streets decorated with traditional Maltese pastel colored balconies and a statue on almost every street corner. There are plenty of shops, cafes, and restaurants to choose from.
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Mykonos's many captivating attributes make it one of the most celebrated Greek holiday islands. Its main village is a colorful maze of narrow streets lined with white-washed houses, many with bright blue doors and shutters. As an attractive backdrop, famous windmills are lined up like toy soldiers on the hillside, vestiges of a time when wind power was used to grind grain. Mykonos has churches and chapels scattered about the island; quite a number of them are located right in town. Radiant flowers spill over white-washed walls and shady courtyards. In addition to swimming, sunning, water-skiing and surfing, visitors find endless shopping opportunities. Artists have relied on Mykonos' beautiful setting to inspire them. The most photographed site is the Paraportiani, a cluster of white-washed churches resting below windmills. Mykonos's museums include an Archaeological Museum, which houses relics from the Trojan War, a Folk Art Museum and a Maritime Museum. The best beaches are Aghios Stephanos, Psarou, Kalafatis, Onros, Panormos and Elia.
Piraeus is the seaport for Athens, the capital of western civilization, which boasts a fantastic mix of classical ruins and vivacious modern life. Climb the hill of Acropolis to wonder at the Parthenon, join the lively Athenians in Constitution Square, and find a welcoming taverna for spirited bizouki music, plenty of ouzo to drink, and energetic Greek dancing. Piraeus is the largest harbor in the country. The white chapel of St. George at its summit has a theater bearing the same name. The hill of Nymphs is the site of a planetarium, which is located above magnificent Thesseio temple. Among all of these hills, Acropolis is the one that glorified Athens and the whole Greek world and became the symbol of the western civilization. Bays and small rocky or sandy coves dot the area and during the summer are filled with Athenians and foreigners enjoying their beauty.
Santorini is everything that has made the Greek islands legendary. The world famous island of Santorini is the southern most island of the Cycladic group in the Aegean Sea, and is located north of Crete. Its population is distributed among thirteen villages and just exceeds nine thousand. The marvelous dry climate and unbroken sunshine create year around conditions which are perfect for observation, photographs and videos under an extraordinary variety of natural lights and colors.
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Split, the largest Croatian city on the Adriatic coast, is the heart of Dalmatia. The old town is built around the harbor on the south side of a high peninsula sheltered from the open sea by many islands. Split achieved fame when the Roman emperor Diocletian (245-313), noted for his persecution of early Christians, had his retirement palace built here from 295 to 305. Since 1945 Split has grown into a major industrial city with large apartment-block housing areas. Much of old Split remains, however, and this combined with its exuberant nature makes it one of the most fascinating cities in Europe.
With a great historic past and incomparable art treasures, Venice is renowned as one of the world’s great cities. Its 118 islands are separated by more than 150 canals and spanned by 400 bridges. During Venice's artistic golden age many magnificent structures were erected to create world-famous masterpieces. One of the best sightseeing routes is along Grand Canal, with many palaces lining the famous waterway. St. Mark’s Square offers access to some of Venice’s most famed attractions - St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace. From Piazza San Marco, a maze of narrow streets are lined with shops, cafés and restaurants. A popular pastime is sitting at an outdoor café facing the square while people-watching and letting the whole marvelous scenario unfold. Venice’s Murano, Burano and Torcello Islands comprise an area famous as home of Venice’s glass-blowing industry and known for their charm, skilled lace-making and medieval monuments. Relax on a gondola ride, see art treasures in museums, churches and palaces, and have a sumptuous meal - all in this incomparable city.
Itinerary subject to change without notice. Please confirm itinerary at time of booking.
Rates are cruise only, per person, based on double occupancy. Taxes, Fees and Port Expenses of $118.65 additional for all guests. Rates are subject to availability and may change without notice. Restrictions may apply.
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4801 Woodway Suite 400W
Houston, TX 77056
4801 Woodway Suite 400W Houston, TX 77056
Monday - Friday: 9:00 am - 6:00pm (CST)
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